ANIMAL loving neighbours Jackie Waddell and Iain Marr are furious that an injured cat was released back into the wild by the RSPCA while they believe it was still sedated.

The friends, who live in Conscience Lane, Devizes are calling for an inquiry after the same cat was twice found in a bad way in nearby fields.

The ginger tom cat was caught after it's distress was reported to the RSPCA and taken to the vets. But just hours later while it was still suffering from the effects of sedation it was released in the dark and left in farm building by an RSPCA officer.

Mrs Waddell, 55, said: "It is disgusting. I can't believe that a charity like the RSPCA would act in this way. The cat was obviously not fit enough to be released and why would they do it at night time."

Mr Marr, 57, a retired banker was also outraged that the cat had not been taken to an RSPCA rescue centre so it could be neutered and properly checked out.

The cat's plight was first spotted by another neighbour Neil Bianchi last Monday when he saw it in a field opposite its house and noticed it was not moving. He rang the RSPCA and it was taken to Macqueen's vet in Devizes by an inspector.

But that evening Mr Marr, who had heard the earlier part of the story from his neighbours, saw an RSPCA vehicle and a man wearing a head lamp carrying an animal down a farm track near his home. He went out to investigate and found the ginger cat at the entrance to a disused milking parlour.

He said: "It was obviously not well and was hardly moving. I took it further inside the building so it was out out of the wind and put some food down."

He contacted Mrs Waddell and the next morning she went down and managed to catch it. She said: "It allowed me to pick it up which if it was a feral cat it would not have done unless it was still sedated or unwell.

"Just because it did not have a chip it does not mean that it did not belong to someone."

The cat was taken back to the vets and later taken to Bath Cats and Dogs Home. Mrs Waddell said: "I tried ringing the RSPCA but had to leave a message. I then spoke to the cats and dogs home and was told it was being kept in and would be neutered. They have named it Humphrey.

"We just want to know why this wasn't done in the first place."

Jacky Macqueen from Macqueen vets said: "This cat is an example of the challenges that welfare and veterinary professionals have to face regularly when caring for "stray" cats.

"He was brought in by the RSPCA who were alerted that he was unwell. He was very frightened and could not be handled without deep sedation. A reversible sedative injection was given and a clinical exam carried out. He had a graze on his head suggesting he might have been involved in an accident, but no other signs of injury or illness was found. The sedation was reversed and he rapidly fully recovered returning to his frightened and unhandleable state. He was in good physical condition suggesting that he was either owned or at least regularly fed.

"The decision was made to return him to where he was found, so that he could return home or at least continue his previous lifestyle. The particular sedative he was given would have been completely out of his system.

"The lady who had originally reported him found him again apparently unwell and brought him back in. He was still very frightened and unhandleable so the RSPCA kindly collected him and transferred him to Bath Cats and Dogs Home."